Downtown Historic District

This tour will explore the diverse collection of buildings located in Washington’s historic commercial core. The Downtown district lies at the heart of the federal city, as laid out in 1791 by the French engineer and Washington city planner, Pierre L’Enfant. Downtown was traversed, bisected, and bounded by the city’s newly established transportation routes such as Pennsylvania Ave and 7th Street. Throughout this tour, you will see the federal government’s choice of classical architectural forms and motifs for its buildings, including colonnaded temple forms with pediments and light-colored limestone wall cladding. These massive and stately structures reflect the early republic’s desire to emulate the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome and project an image of strength and stability. Mixed in to these governmental buildings are clusters of smaller commercial and residential buildings typical of pre-civil war and Victorian-era Washington.

National Archives

Although a bill to create the office of the US Archivist was first submitted in 1930, Congress did not establish the National Archives as an independent executive agency until 1934 and Dr. R.D.W. Conner was appointed Archivist by President Roosevelt.…

Central National Bank (Apex Building)

This distinctive twin-turreted bank, is one of a cluster of financial buildings that distinguish Market Square as a prime 19th century business center. It is among the last 19th-century structures along the Pennsylvania Avenue ceremonial route. …

National Bank of Washington

Built in 1888-1889 by Daniel J. Macarty thanks to the designs of architect James G. Hill, the building that currently exists was, and still is, one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Washington today. It is well…

Temperance Fountain

The monument is in the form of a granite temple sheltering a drinking fountain in the form of bronze dolphins on a granite pedestal. A bronze water crane stands on the roof, above inscriptions exhorting faith, hope, charity, and temperance. The…

Old Masonic Temple

In scale and dignity it complements its prestigious neighbor, a symbol of awakening civic consciousness in Washington City during the nationalistic period following the Civil War. Adolph Cluss characterized the style of the Masonic Temple as French…

General Post Office (General Land Office)

This beautifully scaled and finely detailed building, with exceptionally fine interiors, is a tour de force of restrained neo-classical design and an outstanding example of American civil architecture. The design of the building, based on a…

Riggs National Bank

Prominently sited opposite the U.S. Treasury, it influenced the design of other city banks. The bank was established in 1840 as Corcoran & Riggs, by William W. Corcoran (a former official of the Second Bank of the U.S.) and George Washington…

National Union Building

Designed by famous architect Glenn Brown (1854-1932), the building remains the most important property in Washington associated with his career. The building was the architect’s office between 1890 and 1905, which was Brown’s most prolific period as…

Harris & Ewing Photographic Studio

The studio was home to the nation's largest early‑20th century news photo service, official White House photographer, and Washington's most noted portrait photographers from 1905 to 1955. The building is historically significant because it…

Garfinckel’s (Julius Garfinckel & Co.)

The building was built from 1929-30, exemplifying a mastery of the department store design and a stripped classical style. Garfinckel’s Department Store is a nine-story, steel-frame, limestone clad commercial building. The building is significant…

Treasury Department

The building was erected between 1836 and 1869, and is the work of five major American architects—Robert Mills, Thomas U. Walter, Ammi B. Young, Isaiah Rogers, and Alfred B. Mullett. Conceived and built in the Greek Revival style which so captured…

Federal-American National Bank (and Interiors)

Federal-American National is the elegant headquarters of the bank formed in 1923 through merger of two institutions. It is the work of nationally prominent bank and skyscraper architect, Alfred C. Bossom, in association with Washington's leading…

Willard Hotel

In spite of its massiveness and the difficulties encountered inside and plan, the Willard attains an attitude of dignity and quiet symmetry characteristic of its architect's mature work. Its well-articulated facades are organized both vertically…

District Building (John A. Wilson Building)

Designed by the firm of Cope and Stewardson and built from 1904- 1908, it occupies the entire block between E and D Streets, 13-1/2 and 14th Streets, south of Pennsylvania Avenue. The base of the building is of grey granite from Blue Hill, Maine; the…

Warner Theatre Building (and Interior)

This ten-story theater and office building, originally known as The Earle and now currently known as the Warner Theatre, was designed in 1924 by noted theater architect C. Howard Crane and his New York partner Kenneth Franzheim. An 11th-story…

Old Post Office

A massive, rectangular structure, it measures approximately 200 feet from east to west and 300 feet from north to south. The 9-story building rises 135 feet to the flat portion of the roof. The tower, located in the center of the north facade, rises…